How to become a news camera operator

How to become a news camera operator

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(Image courtesy of Dai Baker)
(Image courtesy of Dai Baker)

Covering the news is all about hitting deadlines in the face of unforeseen events, says Channel 4 cameraman Dai Baker

Channel 4 News cameraman Dai Baker has travelled around the world, including a ten-year stint at the broadcaster’s Washington bureau.  

He’s now based in Wales where, alongside a reporter and producer, he films and edits news packages from Wales and the West Country - although he’s always on standby to go further afield, covering the inauguration of Donald Trump in the USA and the political protests in Barcelona (see video below). 

The unpredictable nature of the job is both the best and worst thing about it. With tight deadlines, it’s vital to stay calm under pressure. 

After Dai’s had a call about a story, he drives off in his van to film and then edit the package. 

On the scene, he takes a moment to plan what he needs to capture. Knowing what you want for a sequence can also help you plan what you’re going to shoot. This means getting a variety of wide and close up shots that can be pieced together to tell a story. Editing his own work has been invaluable in helping him know what to film. “It makes you think, ‘what idiot shot this? Oh, it was me.’” 

Team work is another key aspect of the job. Dai’s relationship with his reporters means he can almost hear script lines forming in his head as he shoots, something that helps him plan what to film. “I'm not a journalist, I can't write, but you… get an idea of what they're looking for,” he explains. 

Since joining ITN as a trainee in 1994, Dai has learned a lot, often through the mistakes he’s made. From putting the wrong lens on a camera, forgetting a spare battery and driving off with equipment on the top of the car, he’s tried not to repeat his errors. 

The RTS award-winner’s top tip is not to worry about getting the best footage, just make sure you’ve got the pictures. Get to the right place at the right time, he says. 

“It's no good being the best cameraperson in the world if you're stuck behind everybody else because you didn't get there until 9 o’clock.” 




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Covering the news is all about hitting deadlines in the face of unforeseen events, says Channel 4 cameraman Dai Baker